Officials in Fort Collins, Colorado are investigating after a Loveland man formally complained that an officer shoved him without provocation — and the incident was caught on video.
A video posted to YouTube on Sunday showed 24-year-old Matt Hefferon being shoved by officer Dan Calahan and then arrested by officer Kyle Bendzsa.
At a press conference, Fort Collins Police Chief John Hutto explained that officers had been called to the Old Town District at around 1:45 a.m. Sunday morning by a pedi-cab taxi operator who accused Hefferon and his friends, Joshua Cullip and Jarvis Gullatt, of damaging his bike.
“What happened is we asked the guy for a ride,” Cullip told 7News. “As we were loading up on his bike, it ended up tipping back because we had too much weight on it. It ended up tipping back and breaking the brackets on his reflector.”
Cullip began recording the incident after one of the officers returned his ID.
In the video, Calahan can be seen talking to Hefferon when the officer shoves the man for no apparent reason and yells, “Step back!”
Bendzsa quickly apprehends Hefferon, telling him he is under arrest.
“For what?” Hefferon asks over and over again.
“Shoved him for no reason,” Cullip says. “You saw that, right? No reason. He shoved him back. I got it on camera. I ain’t even trippin’.”
At that point, Calahan approaches Cullip, asking for his ID again.
“There’s no need for my ID, dude,” Cullip replies.
“You can hold up that camera all you want,” Calahan remarks. “Get your ID out.”
In an interview with the Coloradoan on Monday, Hefferon insisted that he had not provoked Calahan.
“I was just standing there talking, explaining,” Hefferon recalled. “And all of a sudden, he just snaps. … He just unloaded into my chest.”
“I was in no position to be any threat,” the Loveland man added. “I wasn’t in his face to begin with. As I’m sitting there explaining it to him, not even close to him, he tells me to get back. I step back and fold my arms and stare at him. That’s when he punches me in the chest and tells me to get back. They keep telling me I’m resisting arrest.”
Police Chief Hutto on Monday cautioned that the video only showed one minute out of a 17-minute interaction between the officers and the suspects.
“It’s important to put this in the proper context and not to jump to any conclusions,” Hutto said. “But it obviously raises questions.”
Heffron is facing charges of criminal mischief and obstructing a peace officer. Cullip was charged with interference and Gullatt was charged with obstructing a peace officer.
Watch this video from Joshua Cullip and 9News.com, broadcast March 26, 2012.